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Pacing Strategy During 24-Hour Ultramarathon-Distance Running

Bossi, Arthur H.; Matta, Guilherme G.; Millet, Guillaume Y.; Lima, Pedro; Pertence, Leonardo C.; de Lima, Jorge P.; Hopker, James G.


Guilherme G. Matta

Guillaume Y. Millet

Pedro Lima

Leonardo C. Pertence

Jorge P. de Lima

James G. Hopker


To describe pacing strategy in a 24-h running race and its interaction with sex, age group, athletes’ performance group, and race edition.

Data from 398 male and 103 female participants of 5 editions were obtained based on a minimum 19.2-h effective-running cutoff. Mean running speed from each hour was normalized to the 24-h mean speed for analyses.

Mean overall performance was 135.6 ± 33.0 km with a mean effective-running time of 22.4 ± 1.3 h. Overall data showed a reverse J-shaped pacing strategy, with a significant reduction in speed from the second-to-last to the last hour. Two-way mixed ANOVAs showed significant interactions between racing time and both athlete performance group (F = 7.01, P < .001, ηp2 = .04) and race edition (F = 3.01, P < .001, ηp2 = .02) but not between racing time and either sex (F = 1.57, P = .058, ηp 2 < .01) or age group (F = 1.25, P = .053, ηp2 = .01). Pearson product–moment correlations showed an inverse moderate association between performance and normalized mean running speed in the first 2 h (r = –.58, P < .001) but not in the last 2 h (r = .03, P = .480).

While the general behavior represents a rough reverse J-shaped pattern, the fastest runners start at lower relative intensities and display a more even pacing strategy than slower runners. The “herd behavior” seems to interfere with pacing strategy across editions, but not sex or age group of runners.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 1, 2017
Deposit Date Aug 16, 2022
Journal International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Print ISSN 1555-0265
Electronic ISSN 1555-0273
Publisher Human Kinetics
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 5
Pages 590-596
Keywords ultraendurance; work distribution; competitive behavior; gender; track and field
Public URL